Between commuting to work, going to the store, visiting friends or family, taking road trips, and more, your car is like a second home on wheels. Little ruins the driving experience more than weird car smells. Whether it’s a mysterious smell that seems to have taken residence or a lingering reminder of a spilled drink, here’s how to identify, eliminate, and prevent those pesky odors to help keep your car smelling great.
Where is the Odor Coming From?
Before you can get rid of the smell, you first need to identify what might be causing it. This will help determine how to treat the issue. Here are some common weird car smells and their potential causes:
- Musty or Moldy Odor: This could be a sign of water infiltration or dampness in the car. Check your floorboards, floor mats, trunk, and near the windows. Mildewy odors often result from leaks or windows that are not properly sealed or shut.
- Rotten Egg Smell: A sulfuric or rotten egg odor may indicate an issue with the catalytic converter, a problem in the fuel system, or old transmission fluid. It’s essential to visit your mechanic to diagnose the exact cause.
- Burnt Rubber or Plastic: Burned rubber or a sweet, burning electrical smell can stem from many problems, such as your engine, brakes, or electrical components.
- Sweet, Syrupy Odor: This could be a sign of a coolant leak, which has a distinct smell. Since coolant helps keep your engine from overheating and seizing up, it’s important to prevent engine damage and make a car appointment promptly.
- Other odd smells: Animals may have found their way into your vehicle, whether your engine, trunk, or air intake. Open up your trunk and hood and use a flashlight to see if your car is now home to a critter. Don’t forget to also check under your seats – it’s possible that a perishable item you got from the grocery store slipped out of the bag in transit.
Give Your Car The Works
Once you’ve pinpointed the source of the odor, it’s time for a thorough cleaning session – assuming you don’t need to visit the mechanic to address the cause.
- Remove Trash and Clutter: Start by decluttering your car. Remove any garbage, old food containers, or empty drink cups.
- Vacuum: Before you shampoo anything, make sure to vacuum debris and dirt from your seats, floorboards, and trunk. Remove your floor mats, vacuum them, and let them air out.
- Scrub Surfaces: Wipe down all of your vehicle’s interior surfaces, including the dashboard, steering wheel, door panels, and air vents, using a mild cleaner suitable for your car’s interior. Consider using a lightly scented cleaner to help replace weird car smells faster.
- Shampoo Carpets and Upholstery: If your car smell stems from your floor mats or upholstery, it’s time to take things to the next level. Shampoo and vacuum your vehicle, use a specialized car upholstery cleaner, and/or seek professional car detailing services.
In addition to the options above, odor eliminators work to help absorb odors. Charcoal bags and baking soda are two excellent options for combating persistent smells. Charcoal bags can easily be hung in your car or tucked beneath a seat, where they can help get rid of unpleasant smells over time. Baking soda, meanwhile, can be sprinkled onto carpets or upholstery. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight, then vacuum it up.
A tried and true solution, air fresheners can be hung from your rearview mirror or clipped onto your air vents. Be cautious with overpowering fragrances, as they can be just as unpleasant.
Preventing Strange Odors in Your Car
When the strange smell in your car is caused by a mechanical issue, the best thing you can do is visit your local mechanic. They can identify the source of the problem and prevent potentially significant damage – and repair costs – to your car.
If the odor is caused by food, consider establishing a no-eating rule. It’s also important to address spills as quickly as possible to prevent odors from setting in and taking hold. Taking your car in for regular cleaning can also help keep odors at bay. Let your car ventilate every now and then by cracking the windows open.
A weird car smell doesn’t have to be a permanent passenger. If all else fails, or if you’re dealing with particularly stubborn odors, a professional detailing service can help. Professional detailers have the equipment needed to deep clean and deodorize your car, leaving it smelling as fresh as the day you purchased it.
Got A Weird Car Smell? We Can Help!
If you’ve noticed an unusual car smell, especially one such as chemicals, rotten eggs, sweet and syrupy, or burning electrics, give T3 Atlanta a call. We can quickly identify the source of odd smells caused by a mechanical issue, make repairs, and help you bid farewell to those weird car smells once and for all. Give us a call today!